News / Middle East

Some Egyptian Islamists on Haj Pray for Victory Against Generals

A Muslim pilgrim prays at Mount Al-Noor ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Oct. 10, 2013.
A Muslim pilgrim prays at Mount Al-Noor ahead of the annual haj pilgrimage in Mecca, Oct. 10, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Saudi Arabian authorities have asked pilgrims to put politics aside during the annual haj, but amid bitter divisions in Egypt, some Islamists refuse to keep quiet.

“What's happening in Egypt now is a disgrace, the army is killing innocent Muslims in cold blood every day,” said Zaghloul Hassanien, the owner of an oil products company in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura.

He was standing in a supermarket near the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the birthplace of Islam and focal point for the millions of Muslims flocking to the city for the annual rites, which start on Monday.

Keenly aware of the potential for political tensions to flare into violence at a time of upheaval across the Middle East, the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef on Wednesday asked pilgrims to leave disputes at home.

Bolstered security

He said the kingdom had drafted 95,000 members of the security forces to maintain order.

Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia not only hosts the pilgrimage, but increasingly is involved in the conflicts across the region

The kingdom is embroiled in a region-wide contest with Shi'ite Iran for influence, as each side accuses the other of backing Syria's bloody civil war.

It also has given Egypt billions of dollars to help prop up the economy and support the generals who in July ousted a government led by Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Sunni Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi leaders see the organization as a direct threat to their dynastic rule.

As demonstrations by Brotherhood supporters in Egypt are met by a crackdown by government forces, feelings are running high among pilgrims from the most populous Arab nation but they say they do not plan to cause unrest.

Mixed views

One fully veiled Egyptian woman said haj was not a place for politics, but, citing the hundreds of Brotherhood members killed in protests, she added that she would pray for God's vengeance to strike army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“Before coming to haj we agreed not to talk about politics to avoid any problems in this country,” said Mohammed Ramadan, 63, a retired government employee from the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria. “Islamic rule will prevail. God is Greatest.”

For other Egyptian pilgrims, Sisi represents a chance to restore the country's stability.

“In every prayer I say God bless Sisi, God give him the strength to protect us against these people that claim to be religious and who have no connection with Islam,” Mohammed Mahmoud Ahmed, a 36-year-old pilgrim from Aswan.

But most Egyptians making their way into the holy city said their most fervent prayers were for peace.

“Egypt was never like this: Now within a family you have one brother that supports Morsi and another that supports the army and they kill each other over these differences,” said Mosaad Moahmed Hamed, a 28-year-old pilgrim from Mansoura.

“I am praying to God in these holy days that Egypt will be united again. We are tired of hearing about people being killed every day,” he said.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid